Libmonster ID: U.S.-1399
Author(s) of the publication: D. FAYZULLAYEV

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the economic interests of Russia and Uzbekistan diverged. One can only be surprised at how quickly the ties between industries and enterprises, including cooperative ones, developed over decades, broke down.

In a matter of years, Uzbekistan has reoriented all its investment plans to its neighbors - Turkey and Iran, as well as to the industrialized countries of the West. For the sake of justice, it should be said that Russia did not consider the Republic of Uzbekistan as a promising partner in the 90s and practically did nothing to attract its investors to this Central Asian country.

For example, in 1999, Russia's investments in Uzbekistan accounted for only 0.1 percent of the total volume of its investments in the CIS countries, which amounted to 347 thousand dollars. However, in 2000, this figure increased to 0.7 percent, or up to 929 thousand dollars.

This situation is gradually changing. However, before analyzing the current state of Russian-Uzbek relations and their prospects, let us recall some important episodes of their history.

The basic principles of state relations between Russia and Uzbekistan were enshrined in the Agreement on Friendship and Cooperation back in 1992. Despite the declared good intentions, the pace of development of economic ties between the two countries left much to be desired. Neither then nor later was Russia among the states that have a large number of enterprises with foreign investments in Uzbekistan. For example, in 1995, only 99 joint ventures were established in this country with the participation of the Russian Federation and 21 with the participation of Russia and third countries. For comparison, in the same year, Turkish entrepreneurs organized 106 joint ventures in Uzbekistan, 102 in the United States, 62 in Pakistan, 57 in Afghanistan, 45 in the United Kingdom, and 41 in China. Nevertheless, the process continued, and by the end of the decade, the share of joint ventures with Russian participation in Uzbekistan increased from 2.5 to 7 percent of the total number of joint ventures.

The development of mutual trade was promoted, in particular, by the revival of interbank relations, as well as the conclusion of an agreement between the Russian and Uzbek commodity Exchanges in November 1995. The Union of Entrepreneurs of Uzbekistan is actively lobbying for the idea of creating a Russian-Uzbek joint venture "Russian Trading House", which should take over the solution of issues related to the coordination of mutual trade, as well as the provision of marketing and consulting services in the areas of trade and investment activities.

FPG - "DETONATORS" OF COOPERATION

The issue of creating joint financial and industrial groups with Russia in the most promising sectors of the economy is being discussed more and more actively in the republic. These groups, as it is believed here, can be created both on the basis of previous integration ties, and at a qualitatively new level, that is, with the participation of representatives of young private businesses. The first step in this direction was the creation of the Russian-Uzbek Ilyushin FPG, in which the Tashkent Aviation Production Enterprise named after Chkalov takes part from the Uzbek side. According to experts, the project of creating a "Russian-Uzbek textile holding" is very promising. It is assumed that from the Russian side this holding will include Yakovlevsky Textile Holding, and from the Uzbek side - Legprominvest JSC.

In principle, FPG can be formed not only on a bilateral basis. Thus, on October 11, 1996, the CIS Heads of Government signed an Agreement on the establishment of a transnational financial and industrial group for the provision and operation of aviation equipment of the CIS member States. In accordance with this agreement, the Inter - State Financial and Industrial Group (IFIG) "Aerofin" was established in March 1997

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It was registered in Russia for about a year. The founders of IPPF were aircraft manufacturing and repair companies, airlines, banks, financial corporations, leasing and insurance companies in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Uzbekistan. The main tasks of Aeroflot were identified as: restoring cooperation between aircraft manufacturers and aircraft repair plants, as well as airlines of the CIS member states, increasing their competitiveness in the global market of aviation services and transportation, as well as ensuring a higher level of flight safety.

Between 1997 and 1998, the number of Russian-Uzbek joint ventures in Uzbekistan continued to grow: 200 in 1997 and 350 in 1998, most of them operating in the energy and industrial sectors. In 1997, the first joint Russian-Uzbek bank, Asia Invest Bank, was established in Uzbekistan. The following year, in 1998, an intergovernmental information and cultural center was opened in Tashkent. However, the largest project of this period was the creation of the Ilyushin Interstate Aviation Complex (IAC) already mentioned above.

WILL THE RUSSIAN-UZBEK IL TAKE TO THE SKIES?

On May 6, 1998, during the visit of President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov to Moscow, an agreement was signed "On further cooperation in the field of joint creation, mass production and supply of IL - 76MF and IL-76TF aircraft and their modifications". Moscow and Tashkent have shown extreme interest in this project, as the modernization of IL-76 aircraft will allow Russia and Uzbekistan to strengthen their positions in the global transport aircraft market.

The mutual desire for cooperation is due to the current situation in the industry associated with the collapse of the USSR. Its essence lies in the fact that the design bureau of Ilyushin and, consequently, all the technical documentation and designers who designed the aircraft of this type are located in Moscow, and the plant for their production is located in Tashkent. This situation predetermined the inevitability of cooperation.

IAC "Ilyushin" should include KB "Ilyushin", as well as Voronezh and Tashkent aviation plants. But, unfortunately, the process of creating a MAC in practical terms is slow. In April 2001, a meeting of the Russian-Uzbek intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation was held in Moscow, during which the parties only agreed to develop and approve a scheme for creating a POPPY. The main obstacle is that Uzbek aviators insist on producing the IL-76 using more fuel-efficient foreign-made engines. This proposal is absolutely unacceptable for Russia, as it violates the principle of independence of the country's military-industrial complex from external influences.

Since the late 1990s, cooperation between Russia and Uzbekistan in the military sphere has noticeably intensified. In December 1999, a corresponding agreement was signed, which defines the immediate prospects for military-technical cooperation, provides for the creation of a Russian-Uzbek joint venture for the modernization of military equipment, as well as the training of Uzbek specialists in the field of aviation and armored vehicles in Russia.

The most important stage in the development of Russian-Uzbek economic relations was the second official visit of Uzbek President Islam Karimov to Moscow in May 2001. During the negotiations, an agreement was reached on attracting Russian investment in the fuel and energy complex, and first of all in the gas production industry of Uzbekistan.

Cooperation between Russia and Uzbekistan in the development of gas resources of the latter does not have a long history and a large number of joint projects, however, the priority of the Russian market for Uzbekistan has always been obvious. This is evidenced, in particular, by the fact that the most active development of new gas fields is carried out in the Ustyurt region, in the north of the republic, which is most closely located to Russia. The main pipeline of the Central Asian region "Central Asia - Center" passes here. The gas pipeline has an international status, as it was used before and is now used to transport gas from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to Russia and Western Europe.

So, Uzbekistan is extremely interested in bilateral cooperation in the transportation of Uzbek gas both to the Russian Federation and through Russia to Western European countries. However, even in this area, joint activities have not received the proper dynamics. The first attempts to activate it were made in the mid-90s. Enron Oil and Hydroelectric Power Station International, an American company, and Uzbekneftegaz Oil and Gas Company have sent an invitation to Gazprom, a Russian company, to participate in the joint venture. However, after two years of negotiations, Gazprom's management refused because of the significant difference between the low price of gas on the domestic Russian market (in the mid-90s, the price of 1,000 cubic meters of gas ranged from five to eight dollars) and the too high (in Gazprom's opinion) price for imported Uzbek gas.

The confrontation between Gazprom and the Uzbek leadership continues to this day, although recently there have been hopes for a solution to the current situation. As you know, gas prices on the domestic Russian market in

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recently, they have increased significantly. By February 2001, the price of 1,000 cubic meters of gas in Russia reached $ 20. Experts note that if such growth rates are maintained, by 2010 the domestic Russian gas price may be equal to the export price, which will immediately help solve many problems of cooperation between the two countries in the gas industry.

FROM SUPER-ALLIANCE TO MEGA-UNION

Uzbekistan is interested in Russia not only from the point of view of gas export or transit through its territory, but also from the point of view of attracting Russian investment in the republic's gas industry. According to the agreements on attracting Russian investment in the fuel and energy complex of Uzbekistan, reached during the official visit of I. Karimov to Moscow in 2001, the Russian companies LUKoil, Itera and the Tyumen Oil Company expressed their desire to participate in this project. In its final form, the alliance was formed as follows: LUKoil, Itera and Uzbekneftegaz. The Tyumen Oil Company considered it appropriate to withdraw from this game.

The new alliance will develop oil and gas fields in the Bukhara-Khiva and Hissar regions of Uzbekistan. The contract for their development has a 25-year term and can then be extended for another 10 years. Investments that will allow the fields to reach their designed capacity - 8-10 billion cubic meters of gas per year-will amount to about $ 750 million. The total reserves of these fields are estimated at 250 billion cubic meters of gas and 10 million tons of liquid hydrocarbons. Russian companies will invest in this project, and Uzbekneftegaz will contribute its share in the resource part, that is, directly in oil and gas.

In July 2001, the parties involved in this project signed an agreement "On the basic principles and provisions of the production sharing agreement for the fields of the Bukhara-Khiva and Hissar oil and gas regions". Under the agreement, LUKoil and Itera will each receive 45 percent of their output, while Uzbekneftegaz will receive 10 percent. According to the head of Lukoil Vagit Alekperov, part of the hydrocarbons produced in Uzbekistan will be supplied to Ukraine, where the company has processing facilities.

This project, without exaggeration, can be described as unique in many ways. First, this is the first investment project in the oil and gas industry of the republic in the history of Russian-Uzbek relations. In addition, in terms of the amount of investment funds to be invested in its implementation, it will be the largest among all investment projects ever implemented in the republic. Secondly, this project is also unique for the alliance members themselves. According to V. Alekperov, "...LUKoil has taken another step towards achieving its goal of becoming not only one of the largest oil companies, but also taking its rightful place in the global gas market." For Itera, this is an important experience of large-scale cooperation with a foreign oil company.

By and large, the question of creating an even larger organization - a kind of "mega-association" of the Eurasian Gas Alliance-is long overdue. The idea of creating such an alliance was expressed by the President of Russia at a meeting with the President of Turkmenistan in January 2001. The Eurasian Gas Alliance could include Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. It is on the basis of such an association that the most active and economically most productive interaction between gas producers can be established, primarily in the field of gas export supplies to third countries.

Uzbekistan actively supported the idea of creating an alliance. Tashkent is being pushed to make such a decision by the not very favorable situation with the export of Uzbek gas. Currently, the republic annually exports eight to nine billion cubic meters of gas to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Ukraine. However, the only permanent and reliable importer of Uzbek gas is the Russian company Itera, because other companies that buy it constantly delay payments. Thus, in an effort to join the Eurasian Gas Alliance, Uzbekistan hopes to expand the geography of gas exports and streamline legal relations with leading gas producers in the CIS.

520 SPS-YES. AND MAYBE IT WILL BE 1000 SOON

The signing of the agreement on the participation of Russian companies in the development of gas fields in Uzbekistan served as a kind of impetus for the activation of Russian investment funds in the Uzbek economy. In 2001, there were already 520 Russian-Uzbek joint ventures operating in Uzbekistan, as well as representative offices and branches of Russian companies and firms. About 40 of them are established with 100% Russian capital. Among the Russian-Uzbek programs being developed are additional exploration and development of oil and gas resources on the Ustyurt plateau, reconstruction of the Bukhara - Ural and Central Asia - Center Euro-Asian gas pipeline systems, production of equipment for gas liquefaction and petrochemistry, and reconstruction of railways in Uzbekistan. The number of Russian-Uzbek joint ventures, as well as the programs and areas in which they work, continues to grow.

In recent years, the scope of Russian investment placement in Uzbekistan has significantly expanded. In 2001, the republic established such Russian-Uzbek joint ventures as Uzbiokombinat (providing biocontrol of meat and dairy products), Uzbek-Russian-British enterprise FPI - Tashkent (production of pharmacological drugs), and JV Alek, created with the participation of the largest Russian insurance company Interros-Soglasie on the basis of the insurance policy of Uzbekistan. companies "Alecom", and others.

Uzbekistan cooperates not only with individual enterprises, organizations and individuals in Moscow, but also maintains ties with many regions of Russia, in particular with the Novosibirsk, Kemerovo, Omsk, Tomsk regions, Altai and Krasnoyarsk Territories, as well as with the Samara, Sverdlovsk, Moscow, Chelyabinsk, Rostov regions and St. Petersburg.

At the beginning of 2001, the development of relations between the regions of Russia and Uzbekistan entered a new phase. With the support of the state bodies of Uzbekistan and the Russian Embassy in this country, an association of representatives of Russian business circles - the Russian Business Center - was created and operates, the purpose of which is to promote the development of trade, economic and other ties between the regions of Russia and Uzbekistan and economic entities.

The revival of Russian-Uzbek economic ties that has occurred in recent years is explained, among other things, by the convergence of the political positions of the leadership of Uzbekistan and Russia. Russia's leaders seem to have got rid of the complexes associated with the collapse of the USSR and the perception of Uzbekistan only as a former Soviet republic. Uzbekistan's leaders, in turn, are less and less afraid of Russian "control" or "diktat." At this stage, political and economic relations between Uzbekistan and Russia are based on the principles of equality and mutual respect for each other's interests, which leads to the revival of economic relations for the benefit of the peoples of the two countries.


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